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Mad Men S3E8: Souvenir

"When you don't have any power, you have to delay things."


Last night, one of television's most cynical shows had one of its most cynical episodes of all time as it examined the state of marriage in 1963. In a reversal of the normal code on how to depict marriages on television, it was an act of adultery that led to a strengthening of a marriage and a glamorous, sex-filled getaway romp that led to the weakening of one. And if that wasn't reversal enough, we find out that little Betty Draper, she of the shaking hands and fainting couch and childlike pout, is, when set free, way out of Don Draper's league.

We're torn on this episode. There was a lot about it that we liked but the fact of the matter is, this would have been a great episode if we hadn't already spent so much time this season on the deadend Draper marriage. To be perfectly blunt, we don't watch this show for a weekly examination of the ennui of upper middle class suburbia. That was always a welcome feature of the show, but this season it's become the main story. Ossining simply isn't as interesting to us as Madison Avenue. There's so much story to be mined from the ongoing saga of Sterling Cooper and it feels like we've been going over and over the same story in the Draper household with no changes or advancement. Don is trying to be good but he's emotionally distant because he's living a lie; Betty is a furious mass of childish resentments. Done and done. At this point we're rooting for Henry to break up this miserable marriage.

We sound more critical than we mean to. We really did enjoy this episode, especially for the unexpected infusion of early '60s continental glamour.

Betty's hard at work at her Junior League assignment of saving the town's reservoir. "They should be paying you for this," says Don in an uncharacteristic moment of support and appreciation. "I'm paid well enough already," Betty replies, the perfect surface response from the perfect surface wife. Everyone involved in this little social contract understands the rules. She's working "outside the home," but it's fully funded by the salary of her successful husband, which makes it less threatening. Still, it offered a moment when he was actually interested in something she was doing and she ended it by encouraging him to go out and play with his kids, which he does. We said it before: this is a miserable marriage, but it has its moments where it almost works.

But these are only moments. When Don gets a call from Hilton's office, he grabs a pen and literally overwrites Betty's work, scribbling notes on her call list. She dutifully rips out the piece of paper- probably with the name of yet another woman who refers to herself by her husband's name - and doesn't even think about the thoughtlessness.

Later we see Betty primping as she gets ready to make her big Junior League appearance at the town meeting, knowing that Henry is going to be there. We get this great shot of her meticulously finishing her face in the mirror, Sally watching her every move in awe. Betty is sending a message loud and clear to her little girl: It's very important to be pretty.

Henry comes through for the ladies of the Junior League and takes his prize from Betty: a kiss. We all saw that one coming. Betty struggles not to react and drives off in Daddy's car, watching him in her rear view mirror. When she gets home she's more animated than we've ever seen her, doing a little victory dance and mock shouting "We won! We won!" She embellishes the story to an attentive Don, neatly avoiding any hint of her pretend relationship with Henry. When Henry explained his political maneuvering to Betty, he said, 'When you have no power, delay." In Betty's retelling it becomes the far more poignant "When you don't have any power, you have to delay things." So heavy was that line with meaning that even Don and Betty got it right away.

Betty, in either a fit of guilt or an attempt to run away, abruptly invites herself on Don's business trip to Rome. One thing we loved about Betty's sudden transformation into experienced continental traveler was that the writers never attempted to explain it but to long time viewers of the show, it made perfect sense. Between her excellent education and her previously mentioned time in Italy as a model, any explanation for Betty's shockingly easy slip into la dolce vita was taken care of. In a weird way, this felt almost like a Joan storyline. We got to see a glimpse of what Betty is capable of; what she enjoys, and that glimpse illustrates how far her real life is from the life to which she's more suited.

It's not that we think Betty should be spending all her time wearing gorgeous clothes and hairstyles - although we have to say, she never looked as good as she did this episode, whether done up in haute 1963 styles or just curled up in bed with Don in a towel, she glowed the whole hour - but clearly she'd be better served with a little more sophistication in her life. When she tells Don at the end of the episode that she hates where they live and who they know, all we could think of was, "Move into the city! What's stopping you?" Seriously, they have more than enough money. If a little sophistication and ambiance can get Don and Betty THAT hot for each other, then get the hell out of Ossining, fools.

And those scenes were scorching. It was great seeing them be playful with each other, flirting at the cafe as if they didn't know each other. When Betty tells Don she could take him or leave him, you could tell he'd never been more turned on by her. For one night at least, Betty was as smart, interesting and devastatingly sexy as any of the mistresses Don bedded, from Midge to Rachel to Bobbie to Joy. That sex scene was so hot and so of-the-moment stylish that it looked like something from a James Bond film of the period. Which reminds us, we kind of loved them for momentarily relying on a cheesy backdrop to fill in for the view from their hotel room. No doubt, they didn't have the budget to do anything better but in a strange way, it felt era-appropriate, like they were two actors in a Hitchcock movie.

Meanwhile, back in New York, Pete's living the life of the bachelor as Trudy takes off for vacation with her parents. Unsurprisingly, Pete doesn't have the strength of character to be left alone. Inserting himself into some neighborly drama with the au pair down the hall, Pete finds himself in Bonwit Teller, attempting to replace the dress the girl ruined. We kind of saw where this was going and weren't too surprised to see Joan there, working as a manager. It was a great scene, though. Pete made his feelings for the social status of retail clerks plainly obvious by how he treated the first woman to speak to him in the store. Joan and Pete both knew that as far as social positions go, she was in a decidedly inferior one. Still, she's Joan fucking Holloway dammit, and she took control of the situation immediately; fixing Pete's problem, making sure he knew that she suspected it wasn't Trudy's dress, and wrapping the exchange with the line that has become the defining slogan of the show: "This never happened."

What a sad little scene, though. Joan didn't look nearly as glamorous or in control as she did when she was queen bee at Sterling Cooper. We couldn't help but notice that she was wearing purple. We've noticed for some time that they put Joan in purple when they want to show her powerless or demoralized. She wore it when her husband raped her, when she and Roger had a revealing conversation in a hotel room, when she tried to fire Jane, and now here, revealed as a shop girl in front of a former co-worker. Joanie, come back to SC!

Upon presenting the grateful au pair with her replacement dress we see what a little shit Pete Campbell can really be, showing up later, drunk, and forcing the poor girl into sex with him. If that wasn't disturbing enough, then the scene with his neighbor that basically came down to "Hey, we're neighbors. Let's not rape my nanny, okay? Keep it out of the building." sealed the deal.

Trudy comes back from her vacation looking fabulous in a striped scarf wrapped around her head. And here's where the show really plays with complexity. For all the wrongness of the Campbell marriage, there is a lot there that works for these two people. Trudy, misunderstanding Pete's quiet, offers that she's fine and happy without any children in her marriage with him. "You're my husband. I want what you want." It's not exactly a healthy line by modern standards, but with where and when they are and what they're dealing with, that's not a bad place to be, considering how bad things were for them a while back. It's a good enough marriage for Pete to feel remorse over what he's done. And it's a good enough marriage for Trudy to forgive and come to terms with it. When Pete said at the end that he didn't want her going away without him anymore, that may have sounded like he was trying to avoid responsibility for what he did but we don't think so. We think he was saying that he really needed her to be there for him, to keep him from doing wrong things. For this childless couple, their marriage is built on his childish nature being kept in check by her maternalism.

Don and Betty come home to Ossining, so relaxed from their non-stop sex that even the eternally reserved Don admitted to Carla that the trip was "Short but sweet." Unfortunately, Carla's there to yank them back to reality and as soon as she starts in on Sally's behavioral problems it's right back to the roles of Don and Betty Draper of Ossining, New York.

The next day, Don is trying to keep the magic alive by lighting her cigarette for her and buying her a charm to commemorate the trip but it's not enough. The title of this episode is "The Souvenir," and that refers as much to the charm he bought her in the gift shop as to the realization for Betty that it was never going to get any better than it already is. She's stuck in a suburban unhappiness and sees her future stretched out in front of her, at best, with a couple trips to Rome along the way to remind her of what she doesn't have. She voices this to Sally when she explains the Rules of Kissing According to Betty Draper: "You don't kiss boys. Boys kiss you." And you should save up your kisses because nothing's more important to Betty than the thrill of that first kiss. "It's where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone and every kiss after that is a shadow of that kiss." That's the souvenir: the realization that everything from this moment on is a shadow, a reminder of how good you thought things were going to be.

Like we said, cynical.


[Pictures courtesy of amctv.com]



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136 comments:

Oh yes. Betty was radiant. We finally see what Don saw in her all those years back when he proposed. What's really sad is in a different era or different parents, Betty might have actualized that potential

too sad

and Pete. A complicated baby he is.

Frank


"Betty, in either a fit of guilt or an attempt to run away, abruptly invites herself on Don's business trip to Rome."

I think she decided to go because the kiss from governor-man got her all worked up & hot & bothered.


My favorite line was when Pete asked for the manager of the "Republic of Dresses". So awesome.


An insightful post, as always, guys. It was an interesting revelation to see Betty, for so long Don's souvenir (or at least symbol of his status), become her own person, albeit briefly. Don, who is sex on a stick in NYC, is "old" and "ugly" by Italian standards.

Of course, I was mostly wondering how on earth they were going to have sex and not destroy her hair! (How DID people deal with that?)


was in Italy since they never showed biznes with Conrad -- Yes it was great to see Betty hold her own on the international scene but I'm sorry that beehive was too distracting!


C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

I just sat there in awe of Betty's coiffure! What WAS that? And when Bets spoke Italian it was a great reminder: "oh yeah, she DID model in Italy."

My favorite scenes were with the awesome Francine. I wish she'd show up a little bit more....

As for what happened at Bonwit Teller I thought the 'this never happened' worked both ways. Pete gets a new dress for obviously not-Trudy, and Joan hopes he never mentions where she's ended up, even if she put on a brave face about only filling in for first dibs on the Hermes.

The big question is: will Bets still have the fainting couch next episode?

And did anyone else notice Pete carrying the shopping bag from Gristedes?


woops not typing well today, I meant to say that I wasn't sure why Don went to Italy since they never showed a business conversation betwenn him and connie.


I loved the scene of Betty in the hotel in Rome- all pink and blonde with a golden backdrop. Also- the long necklace. It looked great with the black dress but so dramatic when she took the dress off. How fun it must have been to dress Betty for this episode!

Thanks for the great recap!

velvetbeet


What was that line Don said about not showing feelings or something like that because then you can't break his heart? I forgot what it was, but the second he shows a bit of feelings towards Betty (i.e., he gives her the gold charm), she basically poops all over it and you can see the wounded look on his face. So again Don's left thinking, "See, it doesn't pay to show any emotions."

And dayum, how'd you like to be sitting in a cafe and have Don Draper show up in the table next to you? Neither vecchio nor brutto, that's for damn sure.


I was so proud when I didn't bat an eye at Betty speaking perfect Italian.

Although nice work on the purple thing with Joan; I wish I had noticed that!


Great post, as usual boys, but I am surprised at your take on Pete.

Did anyone notice that Pete did exactly the same thing with the nanny that he did with Peggy in S1? He shows up drunk at the apartment of a woman he thinks is powerless and beneath him, and exercises his power by forced sex. In Peggy's case, she was quite willing, and turned out to be stronger and more important than he could have suspected at the time, but the nanny was clearly raped and traumatized.

I think Pete is despicable and scary.


When she tells Don at the end of the episode that she hates where they live and who they know, all we could think of was, "Move into the city! What's stopping you?"

Exactly what I said when I watched Revolutionary Road, which this is more and more coming to resemble.

I also wondered about Don's business in Rome. If he's only handling the New York hotels, why is Connie flying him all over the world?


TLO said: "It's a good enough marriage for Pete to feel remorse over what he's done. And it's a good enough marriage for Trudy to forgive and come to terms with it."

You see, though -- this is the problem. Yes, it was somewhat touching to see how remorseful Pete was for what he did to Trudy. But Trudy isn't the real victim here: it's the poor German au pair who was raped so that Pete could have a revelation about the importance of his marriage.

If it was really a fling, even a fling gone wrong that would be one thing. After all, look at the Pete-Peggy relationship. But Pete forced that poor girl to do something she clearly didn't want to do. She's the one who has to suffer.


my favorite line was in the first few minutes: "Cooper's in Denver, and Sterling's in Jane"

certainly a lot to think about with this episode. a reviewer from some other site mentioned how both this episode and "the inheritance" from a previous season were focused on Pete and Betty - the 2 spoiled little rich kids that can't grow up.


I reread your post and I have to modify my last comment--I think that your assessment of Pete as a shit is right on--I think I took exception to the characterization of his marriage as being made stronger, since I think his behavior is a sign of a serial rapist, and his concern for Trudy stemmed mainly from his fear that Trudy could catch him.


We have been there and back again with regards to the Draper's relationship. But somehow this episode pulled together so many themes and storylines, that I loved it.

The central idea for me is that Betty's desperation and hopelessness are coming to a head. I think what she learned in Rome is that no matter how wonderful the distraction, ultimately when the clock strikes midnight, she turns into a pumpkin.

No matter how bad it has been in the past, I don't think Betty was hopeless. I think Rome just crushed her. She is hopeless, to the point of actually admitting it to Don. To the point of actually understanding what a mistake the "fainting couch" was. She is primed to do something drastic, what will light the fuse?

In other developments... Peter Campbell. Is there a better name for this guy? Peter? Mr. Peter? As in, "Can't keep his peter to himself," Peter Campbell? I loved the scene with the angry neighbor. Peter squirming and being called to account for his reprehensible behavior, it doesn't get any better than that.

I'm just surprised he didn't exchange the dress for a rifle.

And poor Joan. She keeps doing favors for people who could potentially help her get back to SC, but there is just no mechanism available in 1962 for her to ask. Is she gone for good? The telling moment in her exchange with Pete was when she said she gets first dibs on merchandise. It wasn't something she would normally say to Peter, or any man. It just seemed to slip out. Could it be she is just a little bit excited to be working there?

Lastly, it has to be noted that - like the amazing teacher who shows up on a Saturday in July - Carla is also a somewhat magical being. She is able to read Betty's thoughts in the middle of the night and come over to the house before sunrise so the Drapers can go to Rome. Maybe it's a minor point, but there are a lot of these little plot holes in recent episodes. Too many for a show that is lauded for it's realism. If it can't be true to it's own internal logic, then Don might as well start a relationship with a little green moon man whom nobody else can see. Kidding.


portsmouthlist

I had a different take than you guys on the scene at the beginning when Betty's working the phone. Don sounded pissy when he said "they should be paying you for that," like he was annoyed she was working on the issue. And Betty seemed irritated when he thoughtlessly wrote on her list. I thought the moment showed more tension -- she's trying to break out of her "housecat" role and Don's not necessarily OK with his carefully constructed perfect suburban model life being disturbed.


Great recap, as always. Betty was indeed drop-dead gorgeous in her Italian finery. Flirting by the fountain she and Don were almost too much to take they were so stunning. I immediately thought of one of my favorite lines, uttered by Jimmy Barrett: "Are you two sold separately?"

I almost felt sorry for Don when Rome Betty reverted back to Ossining Betty, then I realized that if she hadn't no doubt Interested Husband Don would have reverted back to Distant Don sooner rather than later. You're right - an easy fix for Betty's suburban ennui would be to just pick up and move to Manhattan! But it wouldn't even occur to Don to make that move. Far easier to live a double life when your family is safely tucked away up the Hudson. It is interesting that even a horrid marriage such as theirs has its moments, fleeting as they might be.


Yes, it was somewhat touching to see how remorseful Pete was for what he did to Trudy. But Trudy isn't the real victim here: it's the poor German au pair who was raped so that Pete could have a revelation about the importance of his marriage.
I saw Pete being remorseful, but I didn't read it as being remorseful for what he'd done to his wife. We've seen him cheat on Trudy before, with Peggy and with that model he followed home. The men around him, the ones he wants to emulate (Don, Roger, etc.), cheat regularly. It's part of life at SC.

I didn't think that he was exactly feeling bad for the au pair's sake, either. I think that he realized that forcing himself on her crossed a new line. Cheating by seduction shows strength; cheating by rape shows weakness.


Was Betty wearing Pucci in the last scene? So gorgeous. But then, she almost always is.

That hairstyle in Italy, though -- I could see what they were going for, but it was over the top. I kept expecting her to pull a bomb out of it, like Debbie Harry in Hairspray.


Forgot to ask: Does anyone have a theory about the bad smell Betty and Don mentioned in the lobby of the Hilton in Rome? What was that about?


This episode was cynical, and despite it's great writing, I found it difficult to enjoy.

For one, Pete went interesting jerk to disgusting creep. At least Peggy was willing. He's not good enough for any of the women in his life.

I felt like Betty invited herself to Rome as a distraction from that kiss. And upon arriving home, and given a trinket, she realized that was all it was - a temporary distraction.

Lola, I did notice the Gristedes bag.

I missed Peggy, but I guess she would have brough less cynicism to the episode.

~ pishposh


It's always interesting to see how Mad Men turns the tropes of television against themselves to register deeper with the viewer. I noticed the fairly standard backdrop and tightly cropped, generic locations as a deliberately naked shorthand... upending the Mad Men -goes-to-Rome banality. They're immediately giving us a sense of poignancy by indicating how little of the actual space they/we get to investigate. It's not really about being in Rome. It's about the effect of that temporary dislocation on life back home.

In a way, the most detailed on-screen taste of Europe came from the Roman's innuendo at the cafe. What a line---poetically transposing himself with Betty's cigarette to suggest fellatio in real continental fashion. Was that metonymy or synecdoche?


It's just as well Pete and Trudy can't have kids. He'd be a disaster with an au-pair of their own.


Betty Draper could be one of the women that Betty Friedan sent her questionnaire too.
An educated, talented woman who was miserable stuck out in the suburbs wondering what happened to that woman I used to be?

Betty really is the gal she was in Rome, but she can't be that woman in real life and instead of admitting that being a wife and mother is not all she was told it would be she blames the way she feels on where she lives and her friends. Anything but admitting the truth.
She may not even know what the truth is.

I wonder if Betty will read The Feminine Mystique this season?


I think what Pete did was more like modern date rape, where a woman is made to feel she just can't say no or there will be 'consequences'. I can't see him being brutal or physically hurtful, just an infantile, manipulative and self-serving ass. He doesn't even realize that what he did was just as damaging to the girl.

There also seemed to be a vibe or undertone of male ownership in the neighbor's approach to Pete that suggested that he was not only the girl's employer but also might be the 'boyfriend' she had mentioned with downcast eyes and halting voice to Pete. It would certainly explain her four day crying jag while confiding in him, as well as his aggressive handling of the situation, man to man, and his comment about Pete keeping his flings out of the building. Quite a twist on the 'Seven Year Itch' in any case...


Forgot to ask: Does anyone have a theory about the bad smell Betty and Don mentioned in the lobby of the Hilton in Rome? What was that about?

If I remember correctly, Rome was extremely polluted in the '60s. It had a bad smog problem, before there was such a word as "smog."


There also were several references to insects..Pete and his secretary discussed mosquitos, Betty told Don the kids were outside catching lightening bugs and the morning after, Betty asked Don "did you hear the bugs?" (or something like that)


for a show that let's style pieces do so much narration for it, I was IN LOVE with Betty's wardrobe this episode...the smart but not flashy outfit for the city council meeting (the mirror scene proving its intentionality - every understated touch a mastery), the Jackie Kennedy travel suit, the Sophia Loren gone blonde evening attire, underthings included. The real winner for me, though, was the gorgeous, but slightly inappropriate for at-home daywear Pucci-inspired gown she wore to discipline her children, gossip with her neighbor, and declare that she hates her life in the suburbs. That dress was so dramatic that I, and I believe Betty was sure someone would say something about her picking up "The Latest Style from Rome," and, scene after scene, nobody did, deflating her bubble bit by bit, until Don finally replaced her souvenir completely with one of his choosing.


The episode was called "souvenir"

I think the real souvenier will be that Betty will find out she is pregnant once again, thanks to the wild time in Rome. She steps out, feels the excitement, and then will get slapped right back into the home where she is unhappy. Another little ball-and-chain.

And then wouldn't it be an interesting story line if she tries to decide how to "get rid of it"? OK, OK, all conjecture, but she was looking at her waistline and it just seems like a foreshadowing possibility to me.


I guess I'm a hopeless romantic.

I saw how alive Betty was in this episode (with regard to the reservoir matter and in Rome) and how Don responded to it. I envisioned her possibly getting a job or doing something meaningful, blossoming back into the woman she was in her modeling days, and having her marriage begin to work again.

And, call me shallow, but the Drapers both looked so damned gorgeous and sexy in Rome that I just chose not to think about any of the rough areas of their marriage.

There has been so much suburban malaise and Betty as ice princess this season that I feel it can only be a build up to a HUGE tramsformation for Birdie.

Pete's a weasel.

So glad to see Joan - even in diminished circumstances. It will make her eventual triumph (she has to have one) that much sweeter.

Kudos on the purple observation, Boys. Is it an indicator of when she is wounded (Purple Heart)?


Betty is just beginning to realize how potent her sexuality is; she's going to have long hair and be braless by S4. She's finding her voice and subservient Betty is dead.

Oh Pete...spare me the crocodile tears, sweetie. His driving force is gaining/maintaining power in all facets of his life. It's fun when he's intimidated and becomes self-conscious ("how are you, Joan?")since he's scrabbling to regain his perceived stature.

Someone asked how the 60's updo could withstand a sexual encounter. With wiglets and hairpieces that were firmly pinned and sprayed, nothing moved!

And yes, I know.


Betty's hair reminded me of the alien Martin Short's character tries to seduce in Mars Attacks..

The dress Betty is wearing at the end seems like something she probably purchased in Italy. Very fashion forward for 1963.

Betty seemed so in her element and in control whether she was putting the Italian guys at the table in their place or turning down breakfast with Connie without a thought or dropping that towel. ah well back to Ossining and misery.


What Pete did was definitely rape, just as date rape is rape. It doesn't necessarily require physical force--although that might have been involved too. Using threats to force an unwilling woman to have sex with you is also rape, and there was definitely an implied threat that Pete might tell the au pair's employers about the dress. There is a depressing amount of rape in this show--Dan, and Joan's husband, and now Pete. Probably realistic.


Joan is at Bonwit's!!!! I Loved Bonwit's!


EEK/STL said:

"You're right - an easy fix for Betty's suburban ennui would be to just pick up and move to Manhattan! But it wouldn't even occur to Don to make that move. Far easier to live a double life when your family is safely tucked away up the Hudson."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Even more so, moving to the city is outside both of their frames of reference for success. The "job in the city, family in the suburbs" was the model for the Dream Life - it would not be the Dream Life they have both aspired to, living in the city, and it would have seemed odd, even possibly subversive to Don's peers.

I grew up a child of a marriage of a rising corporate manager in the '60's and not only was that life the Ideal, it was made absolutely explicit in the executive grooming process that it was necessary to further success. The compartmentalization of home and family into a removed, in reality secondary, part of the executive's life, was seen both as a reward for his success AND something to be entirely stage-managed by the wife so that he need not be distracted from work.

These were the days when one could only rise so far, in many firms, if one did not marry a woman who could perform properly as a hostess for business-related entertaining. Young men were informed quite bluntly that their career success required a wife who could do her part. I don't think anyone ever felt the need to tell the men (though the wives were told) that the wife also had to keep to her place.


Rome was gorgeous and they had a wonderful time. Both Don and Betty were so stunning that I didn't know which one I should be gaping at. (I let my eyes rest on Don while I decided...)

Anyway, after that dreamlike, whirlwind escape from their routine workaday lives, what souvenir is lying on the matrimonial bed at home when they return? The Coliseum - a magnificent, imposing, decrepit (in ruins but enduring) amphitheatre where great battles were waged and losers drew in their last breaths. Ooooh! And it's a charm for a bracelet!

Try as you might little Miss Elizabeth Draper, you're tethered to that miserable little life of yours. Chin up Princess, and take a good, long look at your dreamy husband. Made me feel better. :)


While the nanny's employer was certainly giving it the old "Sure, we all want to screw the nanny, but screw a nanny from another building" he was also kind of emasculating. It felt very paternal in a way.

Bill, I too was a bit swept up in how *happy* Betty and Don were in Rome. I just want the best for those crazy kids! But every time they cut back to home with Carla and the kids, it felt forboding.

Ugh, how it must have hurt to come back to Ossining after being Quite the Thing in Rome.


Oh, Joan. I miss you! ;(
Watching her made me feel so incredibly sad, especially seeing her with her hair down instead of the usual pristine up-do. As if she lost some of her strength in her hair.

Ugh, this episode gave a good reminder that Pete is an asshole. I was a Pete/Peggy fan, but no more. I can see why she loathes him now. He was so cruel to the poor foreign au pair, I couldn't bear to watch that scene. Pete can go suck his rifle for all I care.

I noticed the motif of changing clothes and stained clothing. I think when Betty gets out of bed from the alarm clock, she has a pink stain on her nightgown? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure about the meaning of clothes either, especially in Pete's case.


Are we absolutely sure Pete forced the Nanny? I'm not saying he did nothing wrong or didn't use his position of power over her, but as the scene faded to black, it looked like she had her arm around his waste, she wasn't pushing him away. But, I only saw it once, so maybe I missed something? Or, the show was trying to make a point about submission?


Oh, and when I first saw Betty's beehive, I immediately thought of vagina hats. Damn you TLo! <3


Great recap guys. I kept refreshing your site so I could see your comments. Somehow the show becomes even more layered and nuanced after I read your recaps.

1. Re: Betty
For so long I have felt like Distant Don is mainly the reason their marriage is such a mess. But with recent episodes (Betty's horrid behavior to her daughter when her father died and the lack of support when Sally struggled with Baby Gene) has made me realize it really does take two to make or break a marriage. I actually felt incredibly bad for Don in the end when he was trying to maintain the connection they found in Rome and she just crapped all over it by being a little ice princess unsatisfied with her gift. I get that she is lonely, bored, and dissatisfied, but logically does Betty really think acting like a pissy little snot is the way to make it better? But I guess I answered my own statement, logic doesn't enter into it when it comes to Betty. That being said. . .She is a beautiful woman and the crazy hair was kinda awesome and regal. The whole episode showed me why Don was even attracted to her in the first place. I know I might get totally kicked to the curb for saying this but . . .Betty Draper was the Heidi Montag of her day. A charismatic spoiled pretty girl, who becomes more and more of a distant doll with all the trappings of success and married to a cad of a man. . .Weird but if you watched the hills from it's inception . . .kinda true.

2. Re: Pete
He is a dick, like his name implies. But I found his scenes with the Nanny to be compelling and realistic. The sense of entitlement from both Pete and the Nanny's employer were very much in keeping with the times. This was the era of Chappaquiddick and Marylin Monroe being passed around by the Kennedy's. Men viewed women as accessories at best and female servants/help were viewed in an even more menial non-humanized way. Not one man on that show would have seen anything wrong with what Pete did, just the fact that he did it in his own building with his neighbors nanny. Somehow the conversation with the neighboor reminded me of one of the first Pete/Don run-ins of the series. . .Remember back in the beginning of the show/series when Pete was trash talking Peggy and Don said you don't want to get a name in this industry as the guy who trashes and etc the secretary's...
Trudy is so charming and cute, I wish she wasn't married to Pete.


What a beautiful and depressing episode.

I have been waiting forever, it seems, for those dangly faux pearl earrings to show up in this show. I remember wearing just such earrings with a green dress and white hose for my 8th grade prom. And I had my hair up too. The serious hair construction was perfect for that whole look.

This episode reminded me of when I used to like Betty. The last time we saw her really happy was when she had that modeling job the first season, I think it was, and she loved it and it was in the city and she was damned good at it. She was sweet and took pleasure in things. And her husband had it taken away and she never even knew why. He really constructs and constricts her life; she couldn't even wear a two-piece bathing suit without him telling her she looked cheap. That is when she started in on the serious depression, it seems. Being boxed in and then learning of all the philandering seems to have made her terminally bitter; she can't even hold onto the joy of a secret kiss without bringing some Sturm and Drang into it.

I love Don but this show is so right about the casual sexism of the day. Not only in the way Don has limited his wife's life, but in the way he tore into Peggy for asking about the Hilton account. Pete had just done the same thing and was treated with a lot more respect, and for God's sakes, he was the guy who tried to ruin Don's life awhile back when he found out he had some other name.

And about the au pair: I hated the way she was written, and I don't usually say that about this show. I worked as an au pair for a while when I was a student in France, and I hung out with other au pairs from all over Europe, and we didn't tremble like ninnies. The poor girl acted like a prisoner of war the entire time she was onscreen and I thought there was something insulting and way over the top in that portrayal. You can be broke without being quite that powerless, after all. A real au pair could have gone to her agency if something didn't work out and been placed elsewhere; then, as now, mother's helpers are in demand.


"Forgot to ask: Does anyone have a theory about the bad smell Betty and Don mentioned in the lobby of the Hilton in Rome? What was that about?"

Diesel and burning rubber, she said. That's what Rome smelled like back then -- a city of two million two-stroke Vespa scooters (kind of like Saigon today).

I think Pete's quitting drinking next episode. His rapey action scared him (unlike world's-least-likely psychologist Dr. Greg Harris). The little cereal muncher might actually be showing some personal growth (unlike anyone else in this entire program).


I like that Don and Betty went on vacation to stay in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I think that was my first "hey, I've been there" moment of the show. I was just talking with someone about how it's such a '60s time capsule, so it's great that it's getting some MM love. And I was therefore distracted from the actual plot, so thanks for the recap.


FormerlyAnon is absolutely correct -- rising execs in the sixties moved OUT of New York, not into it. Moving into Manhattan would be career suicide for Don. The city is a dying thing; Don has said so himself. And in ten years it's going to be a pretty terrifying place, before the yuppies start gentrifying everything (the house-preservation movement started in Brooklyn in the 70s).

Interesting thing about Betty's hair -- she only had it for the one night! A hairstyle like that, done in a hotel salon in Rome -- I'll bet it took two hours and cost the equivalent of $300 or more. Normally a woman then would have kept that thing untouched for as long as possible, but not in Betty's two-day fantasy.


I am a cynic, but I didn't find this episode to be nearly as cynical as you did, TLo.

I loved watching Betty and Don romance each other. It was the first time that their relationship seemed genuine, and I was happy and hopeful for them both.

(And how much beauty can you cram into one screen? It was almost painful.)

I'm not Betty, but I've been in her shoes. You're wearing your beautiful new dress purchased in Europe, which is probably inappropriate for your real life, trying to bask in the afterglow of your trip, but you're (figuatively) looking at the lasagna that kids won't touch (which took you an hour to make), and the babysitter has told you that your daughter misbehaved (again) while you were gone, and the City Council had a secret vote and undid all of your work from the week prior, and well, you just want to chuck it all, walk out the door and never come back.

Meanwhile, your husband has gone to check on the mail and will be back at his exciting job in the city tomorrow.

I could understand her reaction to the charm on the pillow. At least she was forthright and told Don that she hated her life, I believe for the first time. He was mystified . . . but then again, they don't really know each other. Maybe they turned a corner this episode?

I know, I'm a sap. She's married to Dick Whitman and this marriage will never have real intimacy. Let's get back to Sterling Cooper.

--Itsjustme


Of course, I was mostly wondering how on earth they were going to have sex and not destroy her hair! (How DID people deal with that?)

The magic of industrial strength hair spray applied liberally and often. You could go swimming with that hairstyle and it would look good when you came out. All that hairspray was blamed for a lot of the ozone layer destruction and rightly so.
Women would go to the beauty parlor once a week and would be lacquered up enough for it to last to their next appointment no matter what they did. The hair just did not move at all. Men knew better than to try to get their fingers through it. You'll notice Don's hands never get near it.
What I couldn't figure out was how she got it back to normal by the next morning. Getting all that gunk out wasn't easy.
Plus that was in the pre-blow dryer days so she would have needed to put it up on rollers and get under a hair dryer.
Great episode. That trip to Rome angle was amazing.


I think I need a European vacation. When Betty broke out with the Italian I spontaneously burst into tears. Not a normal occurrence, at all. I don't like Betty, but man, could I feel for her then. The whole situation touched a serious nerve. And I have extremely loving, supportive husband AND am using my degree. She is so not where she should be.

Also, to me the funniest line of the episode was when Joan said "Psychiatry" re next hottest thing in medicine.


Was Henry kissing Betty different in degree or kind to Pete's claim on the nanny? Both men felt they had done work and claimed a response.

"It's where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone. And every kiss with them after that is a shadow of that kiss." We know how the nanny assessed Pete's kiss. I am still wondering how Betty took the kiss from Henry.


Great recap as always - I appreciate your honest critique of the pervasive marriage storyline. I worry that it's getting to be a bit 50s-60s cliché but I trust Matt Weiner won't let it go too much further.

As far as Pete - I was surprised at my own affection for him in the first 3/4 of the episode. So endearing (in a sad, pitiful way). His arrested development hasn't deterred his attempts at being the powerful businessman of his dreams. Though, honestly, I couldn't help but see all of his actions as sad. And cute - in the same way that little children clomp around in their parents' shoes. Make-believe with an added, scary undertone of self-denial and aggression. He is fed up with being second-or-third-best and I almost can't blame him since he was bred this way (by his family and society itself).

Then of course, in true MM fashion, I was surprised at how quickly he took it all too far and raped the au pair. It was a peeking-through-covered-eyes moment and made me realize how in-character that, too, was. Others here have mentioned his attempts at following Don, Roger, et all in their sex-romps. He is in a perpetual tantrum. But I see why the power dynamic between Trudy and Pete works as she has always portrayed in an almost scolding maternal way.

I nearly cried at the last scene, once again sympathizing too strongly with Don. I think January Jones has been fantastic (despite so many viewers' repulsion at her icy demeanor). Down to the blinking and pursed lips - absolute perfection. Also - their sex scenes were so (hot, yes) but intimate! I felt like such a voyeur (happily, so).

I keep reading how Henry is such Don's opposite - but he definitely maneuvered that kiss out of Betty. And though it was willing - it was invasive and I don't really think I want it to go any further...

All that being said - these last 3 episodes have been incredible (visually, emotionally, thematically, and tension-building-wise.) I cannot wait to see where it's going!


Well said about the au pair Anon 6:22 PM, I heartily concur.


did anyone notice Peter Campbell reading Ebony in the opening scene. I think the writers are masterful at subtly inserting the changing role of african americans and what will soon be the beginning of the civil rights movement into the fabric of the show. pete and ebony magazine? priceless...


Mad Men is starting to really depress me, and especially since the episodes always play Sunday night when the work week is looming. I'm not sure I'd keep watching if it weren't for these fantastic recaps...


We couldn't help but notice that she was wearing purple. We've noticed for some time that they put Joan in purple when they want to show her powerless or demoralized.

Fantastic observation, guys!


The Blendeds: Trudy?! "Cute"?! Yes, but it's sooo staged and angst-y: she's a social-climbing monster! She's her rich daddy's little girl, and she snagged herself a real aristocrat--so what if he's the infant (she can't actually have)? Remember Season 2 during the apartment search, and generally in the first few months of the marriage how she would trot out Pete's blue-blood maternal heritage whenever she needed some snob credentials? She's interesting, but she's HORRIBLE. They both are, and they deserve each other.


Anon 4:27, you are soooo right regarding Betty, I think.

I forsee either an unplanned pregnancy after that hot sex in Rome, or a drinking problem - or both!

Lately, they seem to be setting up (and I've only watched this season), Betty drinking a bit whenever she's unhappy or getting ready to deal with something (i.e. before she gets herself all prettied up for Connie).

And Betty talking to Sally about the "first kiss" is how my g/mother talked to my mother in the 40s & 50s. (I know this, because my mother had alot of pent-up frustration at how her mother talked to her - TG she learned from those mistakes!) Anyway, that's probably the only way Betty knows HOW to talk to her daughter.


No doubt, they didn't have the budget to do anything better but in a strange way, it felt era-appropriate, like they were two actors in a Hitchcock movie.

I love how you fellows have put this. Because if the Bohemians of "The Jet Set" were Fellini-esque, Betty Draper was every bit the Hitchcock blonde last night.

Did anyone else notice how gorgeous the lighting was in the Italy sequence? Major props to the technical designers on this one!


Thank you, formerlyAnon, for your post on the suburban family not only being the American Ideal but an integral rung on the ladder of a young executive's rise to success. Fascinating. Thank God my Manhattan-based parents didn't subscribe!


Linda from Chicago

I liked the feminist aspects of this episode. I really hope that Sally grows up to be a hellraiser, maybe a Cyndi Lauper or Madonna. Let's see, she was born in approximately 1955 -- she will be 25 in 1980. Would that work?


What is Connie up to anyway? No, it doesn't seem to be business, or certainly not just business. Did he just want to meet Betty and see her in this setting? He's courting Don, but is he courting Betty too? Might he appear to Betty to provide a way into the life she thinks she wants? The introduction of a new layer of society - the uber rich - promises to be very interesting. Connie could create some havoc before he gets bored and moves on to the next thing.


Interesting how so many posters long for Betty to have her old pre-Don-and-the-kids life back. Someone even went so far as to moan that she should be "doing something meaningful." Glad to know that raising ones own children is a meaningless exercise, but modeling...well, that's the essence of life's fulfillment. When did we become THIS?


I'm thinking the souvenir from Don and Betty's trip to Rome won't be truly realized until nine months later. We'll see.

And is anyone else frustrated with how we keep seeing Don kowtow to Conrad Hilton, but we don't see why? There's no advertising, no advice, no commentary, just a beck and call. I just don't get it.


I remember that Bonwit's. A lovely art deco jewel box that was destroyed by Donald Trump so he could build a monument to his ego. I've hated him ever since.

Muse of Ire said Rome was extremely polluted in the '60s. It had a bad smog problem, before there was such a word as "smog."

The word "smog" is a lot older than the '60s. My OED gives a first use in 1905.


Did anyone think there was something foreshadowing about Sally's aggression? It seems like there is more to her story that they are telling us.


Observation 1: I'm the purist here. Baby Gene is TWO MONTHS OLD. No body bounces back from a vaginal delivery that fast.

Nobody. Doctors recommend abstaining from sex for eight weeks. New moms are still bleeding. Hate to get graphic about all of this, but nobody's belly snaps back that fast. THIS IS THE BIGGEST FICTION EVER.

At two months, it would be surprising for her to get pregnant again. It's not impossible, but very unlikely.


Observation 2: "I get my first dibs at the merchandise" is Joan's face-saving way of explaining why she is at Bonwit. Her husband is still an intern, possibly choosing another specialty, so she is not earning the income she had. Girl's got to dress well. Pete doesn't need to know she needs the job.


Observation 3: Davey and Goliath. Wow. The stop-action animated series was written and produced by the Lutheran Church. In each episode, Davey screws up and Goliath, his dog, whom only he can hear, is is conscience. Pete is a grown-up version of Davey. Perhaps he should buy a dog.

Observation 4: The most depressing part of the show for me was Betty telling Francine that she had her shot at the reservoir and "now it's over and done with." So much for her civic activism. But reading ahead to the next episode, she hosts a fundraiser. So perhaps she gets roped back in by the Junior League Mafia!


Observation 5: "Don, you are obscenely lucky," says Connie. So is Pete. So is Dr. Joan's Husband.

Observation 6: Don gives Betty a charm of the coliseum. Nobody wears charm bracelets. They sit in a jewelery box and tarnish. And curious he chose the coliseum-- ruins of a stadium. Deteriorating like their marriage. And a place where people who rebelled against authority were fed to lions.


suzq-

I was right with you until your last point. Betty Draper wears a charm bracelet. She was wearing it while she put on her lipstick in the mirror above Sally. In fact, I remember thinking, "she needs a few more charms," as one big fob dangled back and forth in front of her daughter. But then again, I work in the jewelry business.

Don said that in a two-day trip to Rome, he would be lucky just to drive by the Coliseum. And we know the two of them never even left their room except for one dinner. I actually thought he was making a private joke, giving her a charm of the Coliseum, when they both knew they had not left the hotel.

I have seen this exact charm many times. At my store, we buy bracelets from estates, and many are chock full of travel charms from various cities. It breaks my heart that someone spent a lifetime collecting these souvenirs, and no one in the family wants them. They end up being melted down for scrap. But massive charm bracelets were definitely fashionable in the '60s, and they were worn quite a lot.

--Itsjustme


Re: charm bracelets -- people may not wear them now, but back in the 60s they were quite popular. Women received and added charms to mark memorable occasions -- sweet 16, marriage, the birth of a child -- all the "high points" of a woman's life. In a way it's sweet that Don considered the trip to Rome such an occasion. But I don't think Betty wanted the trip to be commemorated that way. All of those things that charm bracelets celebrated -- all those tiny frozen reminders of the a "perfect" domestic life -- I don't think Betty wanted Rome to be part of that. She thought she was getting an escape from that life, but now that she's back home it's just become another link in a chain of disappointment.

I almost feel sorry for the selfish little creature. :)

And oh, that poor au pair. Tough way to learn that in New York, there's no such thing as a free Hermes.

Seriously, though -- Pete is despicable. I can feel some sympathy for most of the characters on the show -- at least at times -- but Pete just lost me for good I think.


Did anyone else find it odd that the hallway in Pete's apartment building looks so run-down? Isn't this the fancy place they could barely afford in Season 1?


Linda from Chicago

I just have to make another comment, I guess. I saw this episode of Mad Men as positive, not negative in that the cynicism in it will lead to change. I know Sally is supposed to be a messed up little kid but I liked the fact that she was kissing boys herself and beating up her little brother. Those two actions may indicate that she is not going to follow in her mother's passive-aggressive footsteps.

I liked the scenes in the hotel in Rome, though I'm sure the poster here who said Betty would not be ready for sex physically was absolutely correct. However, the whole thing reminded me of the old Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies where Doris wore ridiculous hairdos like Betty's and posed in a cafe for admiration. Thank God those days are over!

Also, as far as men expecting sex for doing favors, I had that exact same experience in 1966. A neighbor of mine in NY, where I lived at the time, expected sex in return for telling me that a better apartment had opened up in the building. He didn't get it . . . because I thrust a knee where it would hurt the most.

I hope Sally grows up to be a rocker who wears her mother's type of stiff underwear on the outside of her clothing!


I, too, was lost by the run-downappearance of the hallway... thought he was taking out the trash at first, or checking laundry in the basement.


This is a response to some of the messages.

No one mentioned that Betty, after their return from Rome, while holding the baby, told him that she missed him. Not effusive but for her it was more motherly than we might expect.

Betty did not invite herself to Rome. Don said there was nothing to stop her coming with him, pointing out that she had a passport. She didn't answer. After the meeting and 'the kiss' she changed her mind and told Don she did want to go with him.

The first mention of the Coliseum was made by Don when he said he'd only get to see the Coliseum from a taxicab since he would only be there for two days.

As for the hotel room and the flight they didn't pay for them, Connie did. He told Betty on the phone that he could kick them up to a suite but he wanted Don to see what works for most people.

Given what Betty spent on her hair and clothes it was interesting that she criticized Don for tipping the bellboy a dollar, commenting that that was what he made in a week.


About Betty's reaction to the charm bracelet..... I think it disappointed her that Don bought her this "suburban housewife/Junior League set" symbol of their trip. While in Rome, she was chic and facile, in what she wore, how she looked, how she spoke. She was sophisticated and continental. And while Don seemed to like that while they were there, he bought her a charm for her "Junior League/suburban housewife" bracelet. Probably felt a bit like a slap in the face. "You liked who I was there, but the memento you bought is a thing that just smacks of my suburban housewife life."


Capitolo 1:

Anonymous
10/5/09 5:59 PM typed
Are we absolutely sure Pete forced the Nanny? I'm not saying he did nothing wrong or didn't use his position of power over her, but as the scene faded to black, it looked like she had her arm around his waste, she wasn't pushing him away. But, I only saw it once, so maybe I missed something? Or, the show was trying to make a point about submission?

It's either a good point about the show or a bad point about the show; there are never as many answers as there are questions raised in the scenes (damned it).

I guess it comes down to personal opinion.

For me, he was in an absolute position of social power, he was physically intimidating and bigger and actively came into her (or any woman's, I'm guessing) 'comfort zone' around her body, he blocked her way out of the room, his intentions were obvious and unwelcome up to the moment you mention.

My feeling; she acquiesced, not accepted his advances because she didn't feel she had a choice and he knew that that would be her feelings and didn't much care so proceeded as if shutting down equalled saying 'yes'. Which is it most definitely not. And I'm not talking about a legal definition of rape, I'm talking about a modern accepted description of an act.

Hasn't he had a history of going after women who have much less social stature than he? Peggy, that model he went after and bedded, this au-pair?

"Don't shit in your own bed" only applies to his own 'people', it seems. He thinks he can pull that crap with weaker women but I have a very hard time thinking he would dare to pull that on anyone of his own social level. It would be too dangerous (which is another reason why I think he knew perfectly well what he was doing with the au-pair; he has real power over these lower-class women and is not afraid to use it to get what he wants - sex).


Capitolo 2:

I'm sure he could feel that somehow an acquiescence was enough let him off the hook about being a scumbag (until another man had to tell him how devastated his actions were, all the while being nonchalant about the very devastation he's describing). Only *then* does Pete seem to even contemplate that maybe, gee, she didn't have fun getting screwed by him.

So, yeah, I'm very comfortable thinking and saying Pete raped her. And while he knows she didn't 'enjoy it', I'm also pretty damned sure he (and many, many men of that generation - Joan's husband, included) would never have thought of it as 'rape' (God knows what Whoopi would think).

What I can't reconcile myself to is that of all the Sterling Cooper characters, I still think *he* may be the one male who will evolve and get women's liberation. His pushing of Admiral to market to blacks just 'cause, you know, they're *consumers* and the racist blowback that simple point got really just seemed to stun him.

He's reading 'Ebony' in his office weeks after the Admiral meeting. What was *that* about?

He was smart enough to see enough potential in Peggy that he really believed he loved her and her ambition in a spoiled boy-child kind of way.

He actually admitted (non-verbally) to Trudy that he was, let's just say 'not a good boy' while she was on vacation (can you ever see Don do that?) and he did seem remorseful of... something... when he asked her not to go away without him.

He actively brought up both the original quasi-confession to Trudy and he cut right through her otherwise-normal-for-Mad-Men-women blah-blah type conversation about fruit stores to get to the hard and heart part of the conversation. So he can be positively proactive on some subjects that I haven't seen with any other men on the show.

And I think he'll see a correlation with women wanting *more* and his own upbringing where his parents', wife's and social expectations squashed some of his own thoughts and feelings. I don't think it would be a stretch for him to have a discussion about his own upbringing and have him conclude that it was gilded and set but not great or grand.

Damned you, Pete Campbell, for not getting hip way faster than it may take you!

Oh, chalk this impatience with him as another sign the writing is good. I'm sure these self-revelations take years and years and, as a typical drama-watcher, I want it to happen NOW.

Or I'm completely wrong about all of it. In which case; LOVED that wacky bouffant-y hair!!


Am I the only one who noticed the Breakfast at Tiffany's/hooker fantasy that was going on? I thought the show meant us to pick up on that angle -- the film came out in 1961, and Hepburn's Holly Golightly was hugely iconic even then. I thought Betty's look was a pretty clear riff on Holly's looks in the films, and there's the whole thing about models and "models" that the show has touched on before.

The observation doesn't really change anything re Don and/or Betty, but I thought it was interesting insofar as Betty must have asked for that look (she wasn't exactly an indecisive little thing in this episode, so I think that's a safe assumption). The other obvious idea in play there is a diminished Joan Holloway on the sales floor in a dominantly female economy of consumption...

God this show really needs to get Joan back and get back to Sterling Cooper for real.


I'm glad someone else noticed the stain on Betty's nightgown. For me, it was representative of the way her soul has been "stained" by domesticity. Just as the au pair held a stained dress representing the mistake she made in having a party (and the toll that eventually was exacted for the party), Betty's nightgown and her life is the price she's paying for "the perfect life".

Pete...I can see his day coming. All his actions are going to come back to haunt him in a horrific way.


"Someone even went so far as to moan that she should be "doing something meaningful." Glad to know that raising ones own children is a meaningless exercise, but modeling...well, that's the essence of life's fulfillment. When did we become THIS?"

thank you. Although betty is hardly doing a bang up job of parenting her kids.

I noticed the mark on betty's night dress too, even backed up to look at it again. Just like the wife in the au pairs family, Betty doesn't realize what goes on behind her back.


MadManFan - I'm guessing that the Campbells' apartment is in one of the newer white-glazed brick buildings that were springing up all over Manhattan at that time, or at least in a newer, more modern building. It doesn't appear to be a pre-war. The hallways and common areas in a lot of the mid-20th century NY apartment buildings are pretty dull, often grim, even in fancier buildings. Grandeur seems to have gone out sometime in the 1950's or so, perhaps the 40's even. I grew up in a pre-war building in a very modest neighborhood and it was a lot nicer than some of the newer structures in tonier parts of town. Now I live in a 1957-vintage building whose hallway caused my father to inquire, "Want me to shoot out these lights with a BB gun and put them out of their misery?"

Re: Betty and the coming women's lib movement: I really don't see her ditching the Aqua Net and steel-reinforced foundations in favor of macrobiotics and body hair. I believe that Betty would be one of those people who sees those new women as somewhat dirty and embarrassing, but finds her own ways to get unstuck, or at least find new kicks. These may be very flawed methods, which would be in character for her, and for human nature in general. She might read "The Feminine Mystique", but I'm thinking that she'd have a complex psychological reaction to it - recognition, resentment, rejection. Which will all be compounded by Sally becoming a rebellious college student. I fondly hope the little tyke grows up and moves to the Lower East Side just in time for the Ramones.

Now Don. Don. I think Don's going to discover LSD and cut out for a new life. Again, it would be in character for him to remake himself yet again. There were people who did this.

I'm worried that Bobby, on the other hand, is going to end up in Jonestown.

I LOVED the pretense that Don and Betty engaged in, in Rome! That was very hot.


Ok, I know everyone's been waiting for this moment since we were introduced to Betty, so much so that it would almost be cliché to do it....... but when is Betty Draper going to get her hands on a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique"? It came out in February of '63, and we're already up to August. Can't you just see Francine or even Helen handing a worn copy over to Betty? If I was Betty Draper and I read that book, I'd be crying with joy that I wasn't alone. Actually, IF I WAS TRULY Betty Draper, I would rip up the book in childish frustration or write it off as radical.
Oh, Betty, what are we to do with you?
-Brendan

P.S. I want me some more Joan action, too. Joan Holloway is probably the most underutilized character on the show. Like Shannon Rutherford on LOST. Or Ana Lucia Cortez or Libby Smith or Charlotte Lewis or Claire Littleton or any character on that show who doesn't have a penis, a warrant for their arrest or a specialty in fertility studies.


GAHD!
Well, time to turn off the TV and get the kids breakfast made and dressed. My morning coffee was NEVER so depressing.
xoxo from LI NY
HARSH!


MadManFan said Did anyone else find it odd that the hallway in Pete's apartment building looks so run-down? Isn't this the fancy place they could barely afford in Season 1?

That was the service corridor. You have a second entrance, usually in or off the kitchen, that leads to the freight elevator/garbage chute/incinerator.


I didn't get a chance to watch the episode until last night... so much happened, but first of all I agree with the previous posts on the shabby state of the hallway!! I thought at first he was down in depths of the basement.
The whole Pete story was awful!! My husband and I both cried out when he forced himself into the neighbors apartment and confronts the girl. Don't do it!!! Pete is such a contradiction, while most of the time I can't stand the little turd, he occasionally redeems himself, but not tonight. And the chummy little agreement between the two men was beyond awful. The neighbors' only concern was for keeping his peevish wife happy. Let's here it for the Ugly American! Doesn't it make you weep for the very real victims out there who have lived with this kind of traumatic event in their past?


TLo-- thank you thank you thank you for turning me on to Mad Men. I love reading your spot-on analysis afterwards. I am surprised that you did not mention that distracting tiny bow of hair in Betty's otherwise fabulous hairdo - I immediately thought of Allison Kelly and the big bow that auf'd her.


1) Lilithcat is right. Pete and the au pair are in the service corridor. Thats where the garbage chute and service elevator are located. When you cater at a fancy New York apartment - like I did once upon a time - that's all you get to see: the dingy service corridor and the kitchen.

2) suzq is wrong. Having just had a baby two and a half months ago, I can tell you, you can "bounce back" just fine, my dears. As for the belly, well, 1) if all you're eating is melba toast, I don't think there was much of a belly to begin with and 2) support undergarments back in the day had serious tensile strength, not like our flimsy spanx. My grandmother, who was a big lady, wore them into the early '80s and when she took them off... hold on to your hats!

3) How about the obvious and funny Freaky Friday role reversal going on with the Drapers?: Betty is inside working while Don goes out to mind the kids, she's handling the phone and Don watching TV, she wakes to an alarm in the morning, she takes charge by speaking Italian, she's the one who talks to Connie Hilton when they first arrive, and she's also the easy/sexy one. Don is even on "her" side of the bed the next morning. Pretty cute.


Honestly, reading your fabulous and opinionated opinions might be the only thing that keeps me watching this show. It just gets more depressing and slow-moving every week. I just can't muster up any enthusiasm anymore.


katenik said Someone even went so far as to moan that she should be "doing something meaningful." Glad to know that raising ones own children is a meaningless exercise, but modeling...well, that's the essence of life's fulfillment. When did we become THIS?

If that was referencing my earlier comment, sorry if you took my words the wrong way.

I certainly wasn't moaning, and I was speaking only of Betty, not of all mothers.

I said, "I envisioned her possibly getting a job or doing something meaningful, blossoming back into the woman she was in her modeling days..."

I guess what I should have said was "meaningful to her(Betty)" because obviously child-rearing isn't satisfying her.

I think raising a family is quite a noble and essential endeavor, but not something that everyone can or should do.

And the reference to modeling was just a reference to her younger self when the world might have held more possiblity for her. I definitely wasn't pointing to modeling as the be all and end all, just to young adulthood as a time of freedom and possibility.

I was raised by a stay at home Mom and thank her everyday for it. One of my sisters is doing the same with three kids, and I thnk she's amazing. What she's doing makes my 9-5 paper pushing seem rather meaningless.


Anonymous at 10/6/09 10:24 AM, was that baby #1 or baby #3? She's not nursing, so it would take longer for her. And I'm talking about more than just the belly.
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I stand chastized on the charm bracelet. Still, those of you who brought it up referred to the charms in terms of milestones. We probably all agree that Betty wanted Rome to be more than just a milestone.
==================================

All that aside, this is a fashion blog, so let's muse on style for just a bit.

- Don's silk, iridescent suit in Rome was gorgeous. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It created quite a stunning contrast to Betty's monochromatic black.

- The Draper kitchen is depressing. I realize that kitchen design was at its nadir in the 60's, but the Draper kitchen reminds me of many middle class kitchens in the blue collar town where I grew up. I realize I'm living in an era were kitchen luxury is de riguer, but I still find it offputting that the Draper living room is so beautiful and the kitchen is an afterthought.

- I didn't focus fast enough when Pete was sitting in front of the TV. Was he watching on an Admiral?

- The service hallway at Pete's apartment didn't bother me. Hallways are where apartment managers (and hotel managers!) cut corners.


Re. the au pair and power: bear in mind that if she is a German girl who can't be more than 20, she would have been a child during WWII, and postwar Germany was not a place you wanted to be if you could go to America. Anonymous 6:22 PM, when were you an au pair? In the early 60s I doubt that our girl could have complained to her agency, if there was one, and been taken seriously.

Here's hoping Pete learns from his remorse.


2 things:

First, nobody's mentioned the lasagna! What a perfect metaphor for Betty's situation; it's a complexly layered, meticulously constructed dish that gets ignored by her family and friends! She obviously spent a lot of time that day making it, wearing her fantastic Pucci-esque getup, trying to bring a little of Rome home with her, and nobody's interested. The kids don't eat it, Francine ignores it when it's offered, and Betty doesn't even bother asking Don if he wants any. Her day is spent rapidly deflating from the high of the trip, accepting the reality that she can't be both "that girl" and Mrs. Draper.

2nd:

I think Pete being in the service hallway, sitting around in the dark, leaving the apartment untouched such that Trudy comments on it upon her return, all point to how much he isn't really a part of this world he is constructing for himself, how out of his element he is and how much he has no idea who he really is. He's trying to maintain a facade of power and privilege, but it's all false and not really a reflection of him at all. Interesting to have him in the dark so much, without "power" when there's no one there to see him and give him definition.


"when is Betty Draper going to get her hands on a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique"?"

I for one really do wish people would stop asking this question. One thing that's great about this show is that it doesn't pander to current perceptions of what has endured from the 60s, but lets its characters live in their historical moment with realistic blindness about how the future will perceive their era.

A lesser show would have the British executives discussing "delightful moptop musicians" back home, since the Beatles were already big in Britain by the summer of '63, but MM doesn't pander in that way, thankfully. (Why the hell would they be talking about the Beatles, really?)

In the same vein, the fact that "The Feminine Mystique" became influential, and we can look back on it igniting the women's movement through the prism of history, doesn't mean that Betty Draper of Ossining, New York, who we haven't exactly observed reading weighty non-fiction tomes in any other episodes, would pick up a copy of that book and read it, merely because it now exists on the planet.


For fascinating browsing, go to books.google.com , and do an advanced search on "Ebony," limiting the year to 1963. Scanned, complete copies of "Ebony" magazine are available for perusal, and they're full of ads from national advertisers like Coca-Cola and the car companies, but with contented, prosperous-looking African Americans instead of contented, prosperous-looking whites in the starring roles, as they were in, say, Life or every other magazine.

So Pete's idea of Admiral advertising in "Ebony" wouldn't exactly have been cutting-edge!


Gorgeous episode! We think that was central plaza of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles filling in for the cafe in front of the Rome Hilton. So I think the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (our opera house) was meant to be the hotel. In case anyone is interested.


If we (children) didn't eat what my mother fixed for dinner (late 60's) my dad would have boxed our ears. Mr. Draper needs to be more supportive of his wife's cooking.


Thanks for the catch on the purple. I know now to be ready for something awful when Joan has it on.
The Draper marriage is so sad. It's clear that Don wants to keep the connection to his wife and doesn't know how. She can't communicate her feelings except through petulance ("I hate where we live and I hate our friends" sounded more like something that should be coming out of Sally's mouth). If they were better communicators, they would be so much better off.
What's funny, and really sad, is that Betty's "boys kiss you" said so much about the passivity in her life, not just with men. Given that she's willing to drop the kids on Carla on a whim, why won't she try to get engaged with activities in the City? Unfortunately, Betty is someone who lets things happen, rather than really tries to make them happen. Perhaps that way, she can be disappointed with others - rather than herself - in the result.


Even though I was sad to see Joan working at such a place (which seemed like a step down from SC), I thought she looked absolutely stunning. I don't normally notice makeup that much but hers looked amazing in that scene.


re:world's-least-likely psychologist Dr. Greg Harris.

Not true the 60's were filled with psychiatrists that had failed in their first residency rotations. The VA was staffed with many of them.


>> It just gets more ... slow-moving every week. <<

This kind of criticism of Mad Men makes me shake my head in wonder. Is a birth, a death, a guy losing his foot, a rape, and a closeted gay guy (almost) getting laid for the first time, really not enough for you? It's a lot more than happens to most people in a few months of one year, and it's more than enough to happen on a show that's about observing societal mores and behavior with pinpoint precision 46 years ago. It's not about car crashes (though we did have one of those) or things exploding or spoon-fed plotlines. You can find that stuff on pretty much any other channel. Are you sure you wouldn't rather be watching "24"?


About the lasagna -- yes, I mentioned it a while ago. It takes hours and hours to make lasagna and then the kids wouldn't touch it. The perfect metaphor for the futility of Betty's life in the 'burbs.

I know Betty can be petulant and childlike, but Don certainly knew that when he married her. She, on the other hand, didn't know that her husband would be having countless affairs after they married.

She also couldn't possibly know how lonely and difficult raising children would be, especially with a mostly absent husband. No one can really understand that until it happens. My mom had five kids from 1960 to 1966, leaving a fantastic career in the dust, and she talked many times about how hard it was to make that transition.

I was very happy for Betty this week. It was wonderful to see her in control and confident.

--Itsjustme


THANK YOU ALL. Your collected observation, opinion, and memory adds so much to my Mad Men experience.

Finally got a chance to see this episode and read the recap (thanks TLo) and comments here. What my husband and I have been talking about is how hard it is for these characters to evaluate their lives and make thoughtful changes. Betty foremost. She seems to lead a completely unexamined life. She is like a little model train put on a circle of track, going round and round. She has done everything *right* in her life - in the sense that she has done everything that was expected of her - and she has done it well. She grew up and went to a good school, she is pretty, she married an up and coming ad exec, she's had a couple of kids, made a nice house. But she isn't happy and she can't even say why.

This show is a revelation to me. All of a sudden, I understand my parents and my own life in a different way. These characters really can't see any other way to be. When Sally grows up and goes off to be a rocker, or changes her name to Dayglow Moonbeam and live in a commune, or goes off hitchhiking across country with her boyfriend instead of going back to college or whatever - Don and (especially) Betty will be horrified.

But, I can see how revolutionary and freeing the social changes of the 60-70's were. I imagine for most of the characters in this show, the turmoil of changing sex roles, changing expectations of marriage, changes in the way people open up and talk about their inner life, and the changing politics of the workplace will be painful. But I do have hope that for some of them it will be freeing.


I also want them to focus less on life at home, mostly because it disturbs me how much Bobby looks like a baby Victor Garber.


Katenik, I don't think people are slamming Motherhood as much as they feel for Betty. At that time, Betty had no option BUT to become a 'Wife' and 'Mother'. That was the goal set for most women during that time. Take typing, get a job in an office and meet your future Husband. Go to college and earn your "Mrs. Degree". It's sad she has no real words for the frustration she obviously feels. That will be Betty Friedans job.

Love the re cap Guys!


Well, I'm going to post about this episode on my blog, but I can add some thoughts here. "The Souvenir" is an apt title for half of this episode, which is what gets left behind or kept as a reminder of what has been. Betty, in many senses, is the "souvenir," the charm on Don's bracelet of success.

In Italy, Betty and Don are propelled into new relations not just because Betty is sexy, charming, and speaks Italian, but because she is childless, the image of the woman she was when Don met her: a sex symbol with class who is admired for her beauty, the antithesis of a Pretty Woman. She is the perfect accompaniment to Don's climb up the social ladder.

The other parts of this episode are about silent and speech, the things that get said and left unsaid between people. I guess you could see speech as a form of souvenir. Take Betty & Don in Rome: very little is said between them in the most interesting scene, but we understand where their desire is coming from anyway. Pete does not tell Trudy directly that he cheated, but we read between the lines, as does she. And Joan cannot tell Pete what she is really feeling about running into him, just as he cannot speak what happened with the dress. In essence, much of this episode is about class and social convention. And both of these things are intricately linked with the concept of the "souvenir."


I meant "silence," not "silent."


That is cool that people commented on my comment!

To the person who was sticking up for motherhood as a profession, I want to clarify that when I say that Betty feels boxed in and that I feel sorry for her, I wasn't putting down motherhood. At all. I'm just looking at her situation as an outsider and seeing that for her, this particular person, it does not seem to be enough, at least when other aspects of her life aren't working for her. I hate it when she's mean to her kids. Believe me, it's better to have a mom out of the house than to have a mean mom.

And to the person who thought that the au pair's frightened demeanor might have been plausible, yeah, it's possible that she was scarred by post-war life, but still, she must have been from the West or she wouldn't even be there, and by the '60s, Western Germany was doing fairly well. (I admit to being an au pair much later, though.) I still think her timid mouse bit was overdone. And I agree with those who don't think what Pete did was rape. It was pretty close, though, and very jerky, and I'm glad he felt so badly about it. And I'm surprised to find myself thinking his wife Trudy would be the funnest person on the show to hang out with. Sure, maybe she's had it easy but it's nice to see someone on the show who takes lumps gracefully and knows how to appreciate things.


What a weird coincidence that last night on the Rachel Zoe show, the models in the Christian LaCroix show had Betty's hairstyle with the twist on top and the braid!


You can hang with Trudy. Me, I want to drink a Schlitz with Francine. She's got better dirt for sure.


minx said...
Bobby looks like a baby Victor Garber.

OMG you nailed it!


The funny thing is, at the start of the episode, I said Pete doesn't seem as sociopathic as usual.

Sorry for jinxing it, everyone.


When she tells Don at the end of the episode that she hates where they live and who they know, all we could think of was, "Move into the city! What's stopping you?" Seriously, they have more than enough money. If a little sophistication and ambiance can get Don and Betty THAT hot for each other, then get the hell out of Ossining, fools.


That's all you can think of? This is the second time that many assume that all Betty needs is a little sophistication in her life. Her attempt to restart her modeling career in Season One's "Shoot" tells me that Betty requires a lot more than that. Simply moving to Manhattan would allow Betty to become the type of wife that Laura Linney was in "THE NANNY DIARIES". She can be more than that.


However, the whole thing reminded me of the old Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies where Doris wore ridiculous hairdos like Betty's and posed in a cafe for admiration.


I don't recall Doris Day doing any of that in her movies with Rock Hudson.


Darling gays that I love,
Your post was better than ever but this is one thing you might miss a tad; the change in dynamic for heterosexual couples in the 1960's IS the catalyst for so much of the resulting upheaveal. I know Ossining isn't as interesting as Madison Avenue, but no sooner did suburbs crop up than they were rejected - at least emotionally. All those Betty's realizing how they were worth so much more. The euphoria and post-war 'chill out' of the 1950's couldn't last forever. For some of us - still living with the fall-out of being raised by 'Betty's', the episode was both revealing and all too chillingly 'close to home.'


Betty is not a happy person primarily because she is selfish. (think of her response to her dad when he wanted to talk to her about his will).
She is not unhappy because she's in the suburbs, or a stay-at-home mom, or because she doesn't have some other "meaningful" job.
On top of that, her husband is a serial philanderer who closes himself off to her. She knows virtually nothing about him.

Believe it or not, you can be happy in the suburbs (even in the 60's!), and you can be happy raising your own children (even in the 60's!).
It's almost impossible to be happy if you need people to adore you. Especially if even the man who promised to adore you forever only really does when there isn't some hotter hoochie available.


OK, am I the only one who heard this? When Don gets the call to go to Rome, Betty and he discuss her going as well but decide against it. Don says they can stay at the Waldorf anytime and Betty says that it is "...just like Rome". To Which Don replies "Sorry Birdie". I could be wrong but that is what I heard. A call back to "Bye, Bye Birdie"!


Don called Betty "Bertie" thoughout much of the first season, if not also the second. It's his pet nickname for her, though used less and less. So it's a callback to that, not "Bye Bye Birdie," although I did think the similarity in names might be more than coincidental.


This comment has been removed by the author.

Believe it or not, you can be happy in the suburbs (even in the 60's!), and you can be happy raising your own children (even in the 60's!).


What are you saying? That Betty SHOULD BE a happy suburban housewife? That “all” women should be this way? Is it demanded of Betty to be happy in her present position? If so, why? Because she’s married and has kids in 1963? It’s required of her?



Betty is not a happy person primarily because she is selfish.


Congratulations. I believe you may have described ALL of the main characters on the show. Why Betty is being singled out for this trait, I have no idea.


Believe it or not, you can be happy in the suburbs (even in the 60's!), and you can be happy raising your own children (even in the 60's!).
It's almost impossible to be happy if you need people to adore you. Especially if even the man who promised to adore you forever only really does when there isn't some hotter hoochie available.



Need people to adore you? Is that all you think what makes Betty ticks? Does anyone really understand her character? Or do they see the Grace Kelly looks and priviledged upbringing and believe that she should be happy with her lot?


MayBee said: Believe it or not, you can be happy in the suburbs (even in the 60's!), and you can be happy raising your own children (even in the 60's!).
It's almost impossible to be happy if you need people to adore you. Especially if even the man who promised to adore you forever only really does when there isn't some hotter hoochie available.


I disagree that Betty needs everyone to adore her. But your second point, that the man who promised to adore her apparently doesn't, is important. Wouldn't any woman who feels unloved by her husband be unhappy? This isn't about Betty being disillusioned because the romance is gone. Betty feels like her marriage is a lie, and she doesn't even know the half of it. You said yourself that Don cheats on her. That, in itself, is reason for her to be miserable. Besides that, though, she's discovered that everything she thought she wanted - everything she was told would make her happy - is a big, fat joke.

I think her finally admitting that she hates her life is a major step. That shit's been at such a low simmer for so long she didn't even know how she felt. She's said the words, and she can't take them back. At least she expressed an emotion. I think that's a good thing.

I can't dismiss Betty as being nothing more than a selfish bitch. No one on Mad Men is just one thing, and Betty is as complicated as any other character on the show.

Even if she never picks up a copy of The Feminine Mystique, and never has her consciousness raised in the now stereotypical way, it was women just like her who made a difference in the lives of American women. So, no. I can't write Betty off as just being selfish and ungrateful.


Betty Draper is not a stand-in for all women everywhere or even for the women of her generation. She is a character in a story and nothing more than that should be laid on her shoulders.


What are you saying? That Betty SHOULD BE a happy suburban housewife? That “all” women should be this way? Is it demanded of Betty to be happy in her present position? If so, why? Because she’s married and has kids in 1963? It’s required of her?

I don't think I said anything about all women being happy one way or another. But all women aren't miserable one way or another either. I'm just saying being a suburban housewife is the least of the things contributing to Betty's unhappiness.

Is it demanded that Betty be happy in her present position? Absolutely not.

Maura makes some excellent points, as does Anonymous at 9:31 am.


I can't dismiss Betty as being nothing more than a selfish bitch. No one on Mad Men is just one thing, and Betty is as complicated as any other character on the show.

I agree with that. I don't think Betty is no more than a selfish bitch, but I do think she is selfish.
I think Don is selfish.

And yes, the characters are very complicated. Very few of them are happy, even those who seem to have everything they want.
Would we call Don happy? Roger? Peggy?


Sorry about that, MayBee. When talking about Betty's worst characteristics, "selfish" and "bitch" seem to go hand in hand for a lot of people. I made an incorrect assumption about your comment.

She is selfish, as is almost everyone on the show. I think she takes a bigger beating for it than most of the other characters. I fully admit to being a Betty apologist. She'd have to kill one of her kids for me to think she's a horrible person.


T-Lo said
"the realization that everything from this moment on is a shadow, a reminder of how good you thought things were going to be."

Did you notice the shadow of Don and Betty when they first got back to hotel to have hot sex after having dinner with Connie?

Also, what was the flashback? to Don getting up in a hotel/bedroom wtih blood on his face, was that Dick Whitman? And also Betty on a chaise touching herself?

[i watch the episode on youtube and whoever "allows" the episode to be posted always removes the last segment, so I never see the ending. apologies if these questions are self-evident]


"This show is a revelation to me. All of a sudden, I understand my parents and my own life in a different way. These characters really can't see any other way to be. When Sally grows up and goes off to be a rocker, or changes her name to Dayglow Moonbeam and live in a commune, or goes off hitchhiking across country with her boyfriend instead of going back to college or whatever - Don and (especially) Betty will be horrified."


I would not be surprised if Sally turned out to be a "complicated" parent herself. Let's face it. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. If there is . . . that is a rare person.

I also have to wonder why fans tend to judge Betty's parenting from a 21st century point-of-view. They don't judge Peggy or Joan's flaws from this point of view. They tend to dismiss Peggy and Joan's mistakes, using the "sign of the times" or "that's how it was back in those days" as excuses. Especially Joan's decision to ignore Greg's rape of her and marry him.

Why is it that Betty's role as a mother is judged and criticized by today's standards; yet Joan and Peggy's flaws are not?


"The Rush Blog said...

I also have to wonder why fans tend to judge Betty's parenting from a 21st century point-of-view. They don't judge Peggy or Joan's flaws from this point of view. They tend to dismiss Peggy and Joan's mistakes, using the "sign of the times" or "that's how it was back in those days" as excuses. Especially Joan's decision to ignore Greg's rape of her and marry him."


Who is doing this? You'll pardon me, but I think your take on the character is just as wrong. As someone else pointed out, she's not a stand-in for women of her generation. She's a character in her own right with all the flaws and insecurities that all the other characters have. Peggy has been criticized for being too cold and rigid, Joan has been criticized for racism and for being a bitch, Don has been criticized for philandering and for being a cold bastard, Pete has been criticized for being smarmy. It seems like any time Betty is criticized someone comes along complaining about it.


Who is doing this? You'll pardon me, but I think your take on the character is just as wrong. As someone else pointed out, she's not a stand-in for women of her generation. She's a character in her own right with all the flaws and insecurities that all the other characters have. Peggy has been criticized for being too cold and rigid, Joan has been criticized for racism and for being a bitch, Don has been criticized for philandering and for being a cold bastard, Pete has been criticized for being smarmy. It seems like any time Betty is criticized someone comes along complaining about it.


I suggest that you read some of the comments on the TWOP forums and the LIVEJOURNAL blogs for "MAD MEN". Seriously.

Joan is a minor racist? I agree. But most fans will declare to high heaven that Joan was not being a racist when she insulted Sheila White. They claim that she was merely using Sheila to out Paul Kinsey as a poseur. Regarding her marriage to Greg Harris? They claim that as a woman in the 1960s, the phrase s"date rape" or "marital rape" did not exist and that Joan was probably unaware that she had been raped. This is THEIR excuse as to why she had decided to marry Greg.

Peggy's inability to realize that she was pregnant at the end of Season 1 has been excused on the grounds that women "of her generation" were more ignorant of pregnancy than we are today. Many are dismissing her sexual tryst with Duck Phillips as a sign that Peggy is a naive woman who was easily compromised by his. And they consider this as a sign of Peggy being a young woman of the late 50s and early 60s.

Many of the characters have been criticized, but not to the same degree as Betty. She and Pete are the ones who are constantly labeled as "childish", despite the fact that most or all of the characters have almost consistently behaved in childish ways. They accuse Betty of wallowing in her illusions more often than any other character. Yet, from my viewing of the past two-and-a-half seasons, just about all of the characters indulge in this behavior.

Ever since Betty had demanded that Don spank Bobby in Season Two's "Three Sundays", she has been labled as an abusive parent. Every time she scolds or disciplines or fails to comfort her children, many fans rant and rave and label her as another Joan Crawford. Don does not receive as much criticism for being emotionally distant to his children, as Betty has for being a strict mother. They never take into account that Betty is raising her children, just as she and possibly others had been raised.


I suggest that you read some of the comments on the TWOP forums and the LIVEJOURNAL blogs for "MAD MEN". Seriously.

I suggest you take your criticisms of those people to them and not bring it up here. Seriously.

The rest of your rant is nothing more than "Some people say" and "Most people say" without any real evidence. I'm sure there are some people who criticize Betty for less than fair reasons, but she's not being singled out. EVERY character is criticized for their actions because EVERY character is flawed. That's a major part of the show.


I knew change was in the wind the minute Betty was standing in the hotel lobby in Rome and a woman walked by in a trapeze dress and her head snapped "whoa." A friend of mine said, "They are going to Rome circa 1963? Get ready to see fabulous clothes on the men and women." How true. Even now.

Why don't they have John Waters playing Connie Hilton for God's sake. He'd be the perfect blend of smart, smarmy quirky sleaze.

I half expected Hilton to use a pass key and walk into their bedroom with a midget, two mimes and Anna Magnani. Very Fellinisque.

I loved the dried out withered lasagna having cigarette smoke blown over it.

I am waiting for this show to fast foward a few years, because that's when little Sally, now a teen, is going to rip the roof off.


As for a woman referring to herself by her husband's name only, I remember those days first hand. I even have an old church bulletin that has ALL women listed as Mrs. So and So (first name)as in Mrs. Larry Sanders (Donna) or Mrs. John Tyler (Betty Ann). This is the early sixties so someone here did their homework. I never did understand why that was the convention but it was that way for all the listings.


Could Don and Betty really just pick up and move to Manhattan? Maybe today they could, but back then, I doubt it. Isn't part of the image Don wants/needs to project that of the corporate man with the bigshot job in the city and the innocent wife and kids in the 'burbs. If he gives up the 'burbs, he gives up that image and the connections that come with it. After all, didn't he meet Conrad Hilton at a party he wouldn't have been invited to if he wasn't in with the country club set? And it's true that moving to the city would make it harder for Don--Mr. No Contract--to lead his double life. Bottom line: they can't move to the city because that would make them "different," a crime punishable by death or at least social suicide back in their day.


"Molly McCaffrey said...

Could Don and Betty really just pick up and move to Manhattan? Maybe today they could, but back then, I doubt it. Isn't part of the image Don wants/needs to project that of the corporate man with the bigshot job in the city and the innocent wife and kids in the 'burbs. If he gives up the 'burbs, he gives up that image and the connections that come with it. After all, didn't he meet Conrad Hilton at a party he wouldn't have been invited to if he wasn't in with the country club set? And it's true that moving to the city would make it harder for Don--Mr. No Contract--to lead his double life. Bottom line: they can't move to the city because that would make them "different," a crime punishable by death or at least social suicide back in their day."


People keep saying this but it's simply not true. First, Don met Connie because he was at a party thrown by Roger. Where he lived had nothing to do with it. Second, of all the principals at Sterling Cooper, Don is the ONLY one shown to be living in the suburbs. Roger, Lane, Pete, Sal, Harry, and Joan (all married) live in the city.


Bravo, Anonymous 10/6/09 12:57 PM!

The most compelling aspect of this program is its refusal to cater to an anachronistic, smugly self-flattering, 21st Century-centric image of the 60s. As a feminist, I'm perhaps *most* pleased to see that the writers emphasize the contingency and ambivalence of feminist "progress" rather than suggesting some inevitable march towards our "freedom" today: any clear 21st Century feminist identification with or analysis of the period is deeply complicated by the fact that the writers turn the same critical lens on "feminist history" as they do on the rest of our revisionism re: the early 60s. The utter difference of these characters (in their relationships to race, class, gender, nation) may be the best part of the show. Again, this excellent "meta" writing keeps me tuned-in; however, the hit-or-miss quality of moment-to-moment dialogue certainly leaves much to be desired!


I though there was an interesting mirroring between the Pete and the Au Pair and the Betty and Henry story lines. Henry helped Betty and all he got was a kiss. Instead of sleeping with him, she jetted off to Rome. And when she came back, her project was crushed.

Pete gets the au pair out a jam but demands payback. He asks to kiss her (unlike Henry) and she, understanding that he might rat her out and get her send back to the fatherland, agrees.

I think most of us can see it as rape, but I am sure Pete doesn't. He's just sorry he cheated on Trudy and the neighbor knows.

On another topic, yes, I agree even a woman on a mad diet probably wouldn't look as good as Betty did in her underwear only two months after delivery. Especially as she's not breastfeeding. But hey, they gave us at least one episode where she had a realistic post baby belly and that's better than every other television show in history.

And oh yeah, she certainly can get pregnant two months after the birth. (It's less likely if you are breastfeeding, but even then, not impossible.) They call that Irish twins.

Maureen


I'm sure this response is way to late in the game to actually be read, but I still feel the need to respond (a mark of the show's brilliance, undoubtedly, that it inspires such dialogue).

See, I actually thought that while this episode was certainly cynical (it wouldn't be Mad Men if that weren't true), it was cynical in a way that I find easier to take and more meaningful than the "two people who are trapped in a loveless marriage" trope that Mad Men has been focusing on in episodes past.

By showing us how Betty just exploded into life in Rome, without the weight of her responsibilities (familial, cultural, social), for the very first time maybe in the entire show I actually saw a ray of hope for her. Betty is an incredibly smart, capable woman who has been taught at a very young age how to move forward and adjust her expectations to a suit a specific set of cultural ideals--ideals that, unfortunately, are incredibly repressive to her. I feel like this episode was more successful than others in showing to what a large extent Betty's unhappiness does in fact stem from her location--in society, in her family, in the world. She goes from a place where animals are destroyed (the homing pigeons that she was so elegantly identified with in the first season and the lightening bugs in the beginning of the episode that were trapped by her children--very symbolic, no?) to a city where insects are allowed to be free--and even to sing.

Betty is not like Pete, who seems to age backwards at an alarming rate when left to his own devices. Without Trudy, he spends his time eating cereal in front of the tv, guffawing at whatever cartoon's on. Even his horrific rape of the nanny next door strongly paralleled Sally's forceful advances on her friend in the bathtub. Of course, Sally had a nanny (and a brother) who intervened and prevented things from escalating (not that I'm saying Sally would have raped her friend, though little kids have been known to pressure one another into doing things with which they are not comfortable).

Unlike Pete, when Betty gets a chance to escape from her responsibilities and is not pressured to play the subservient housewife or the cold matronly figure, she comes alive. It was so refreshing to see, and, in my opinion, more a sad reflection on the times than a cynical statement on marriage.

-E


*way TOO late in the game...

sorry folks :O)

-E





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